Lions review by William Fitzsimmons

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  • Released: Feb 18, 2014
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.5 (4 votes)
William Fitzsimmons: Lions

Sound — 8
William Fitzsimmons has a rather interesting life story. He is the youngest son of two blind parents. They were both musicians; they taught him how to play piano on the father's hand built pipe organ. Despite his musical upbringing, Fitzsimmons didn't even consider taking on music as a career until fairly late in his life; he had already pursued a masters degree related to caring for the mentally ill. During the summer before he completed the degree, he self-recorded some of his songs in his home studio and these songs would later, after a couple of years, become his first album. Despite such an odd start, in fact, maybe because of it, William Fitzsimmons has blossomed into a beautiful singer/songwriter.

On this album, Fitzsimmons reveals himself to his audience in new ways. Whether or not the stories he tells are true, Fitzsimmons sounds sincere in making his message. His voice quivers with a quiet and welcoming nature. But the best part of this album is that unlike most albums of this type, there is insightful music that accompanies the heartfelt, albeit depressing lyrics.

Most of the music consists of quiet acoustic guitar arpeggios intermixed with some fully strummed chords here and there, maybe done by a piano. This type of music lays a solid foundation for the vocals as well as for the layering of other instruments. This layering, whether it be a soft piano or a driven electric guitar is the best part of the album. With tremendous diversity across the album, the layering shines through when it is most necessary, showing the thought and care Fitzsimmons put into the music as well as the lyrics. Following that train of thought, the production of the album also shows tremendous care; every instrument cuts through the mix well and the layering, from a production perspective, is meticulously excellent.

One other thing worth noting about the album's sound is that drums are seldom used; they act as one of the layered instruments that I discussed above. In fact, on the song "Took" it seems as if the drums are there to contribute to the bass' melody instead of to keep time. Moreover, like the other layered instruments, the drums create a peace, a landscape, almost a place to fall asleep. The incredible sense of calm on the album creates this backdrop from which to pay attention to the music, which is diverse, catchy, and interesting even though it wouldn't seem so initially.

The sound of the album just made me feel at home; maybe sitting in a lawn chair staring at an open field of green grass. For whatever reason, the album makes me feel connected with nature, kind of like if I pretended to be Thoreau in Walden. As a musical comparison, think of Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" but for the length of a whole album and maybe, therefore, a little bit more creative.

And of course, the album cover is just awesome if you haven't looked at it. Yes, it's just a lion, but for some reason, it seems different, and it really struck a chord with me.

Lyrics — 7
William Fitzsimmons' vocals are more mumbled than sang (making the lyrics slightly unintelligible). This style, lends itself well to the calm vibe that the music creates. So I was very surprised when I started to look at the actual lyrics. The lyrics, in direct contrast to what I would have predicted, are very dark and morbid, discussing death and other depressing parts of life.

Here is an example of what I'm talking about from "Lions":

"And after the rains came
And washed out her remnant

And looking for traces
Of bloodiness in faces

And you remind me of the breath
That I drew
For you the shadow of a ghost

There's lions between us
They'll cut us to pieces

And before the sun came
Forgotten her old name

And you remind me of the breath
That I drew
For you the shadow of a ghost
No more."

Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this is an excellent album. Its best characteristic is its ability to make each song sound unique and diverse, even if it is not, in technical music terms. Everything flows nicely and calmly, making this an album to peacefully fall asleep to (and I mean that in the best of ways). Fitzsimmons' voice sounds quietly sincere and I would have never guessed that he sings about the topics in the lyrics.  

Aside from the curveball of the lyrics not matching the content (at least in my mind), everything on this album just feels right. That feeling is one that most albums cannot create. And that is why is album is so great. So please, give it a listen. I think you'll be presently surprised.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I remember "Until When We Are Ghosts" being a really good album... I almost forgot about this guy. I'll have to give this record a shot. Great review.
    Saw him live 2 weeks ago. Never heard of him before. Huge fan now.